Glaucoma-Associated CDR1 Peptide Promotes RGC Survival in Retinal Explants through Molecular Interaction with Acidic Leucine Rich Nuclear Phosphoprotein 32A (ANP32A)
Glaucoma is a complex, multifactorial optic neuropathy mainly characterized by the progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and their axons, resulting in a decline of visual function. The pathogenic molecular mechanism of glaucoma is still not well understood, and therapeutic strategies specifically addressing the neurodegenerative component of this ocular disease are urgently needed. Novel immunotherapeutics might overcome this problem by targeting specific molecular structures in the retina and providing direct neuroprotection via different modes of action. Within the scope of this research, the present study showed for the first time beneficial effects of the synthetic CDR1 peptide SCTGTSSDVGGYNYVSWYQ on the viability of RGCs ex vivo in a concentration-dependent manner compared to untreated control explants (CTRL, 50 µg/mL: p < 0.05 and 100 µg/mL: p < 0.001). Thereby, this specific peptide was identified first as a potential biomarker candidate in the serum of glaucoma patients and was significantly lower expressed in systemic IgG molecules compared to healthy control subjects. Furthermore, MS-based co-immunoprecipitation experiments confirmed the specific interaction of synthetic CDR1 with retinal acidic leucine-rich nuclear phosphoprotein 32A (ANP32A; p < 0.001 and log2 fold change > 3), which is a highly expressed protein in neurological tissues with multifactorial biological functions. In silico binding prediction analysis revealed the N-terminal leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain of ANP32A as a significant binding site for synthetic CDR1, which was previously reported as an important docking site for protein-protein interactions (PPI). In accordance with these findings, quantitative proteomic analysis of the retinae ± CDR1 treatment resulted in the identification of 25 protein markers, which were significantly differentially distributed between both experimental groups (CTRL and CDR1, p < 0.05). Particularly, acetyl-CoA biosynthesis I-related enzymes (e.g., DLAT and PDHA1), as well as cytoskeleton-regulating proteins (e.g., MSN), were highly expressed by synthetic CDR1 treatment in the retina; on the contrary, direct ANP32A-interacting proteins (e.g., NME1 and PPP2R4), as well as neurodegenerative-related markers (e.g., CEND1), were identified with significant lower abundancy in the CDR1-treated retinae compared to CTRL. Furthermore, retinal protein phosphorylation and histone acetylation were also affected by synthetic CDR1, which are both partially controlled by ANP32A. In conclusion, the synthetic CDR1 peptide provides a great translational potential for the treatment of glaucoma in the future by eliciting its neuroprotective mechanism via specific interaction with ANP32A’s N terminal LRR domain.